Posted by: greatfallsgirl | October 29, 2009

Those Three Restaurants in Black Eagle

smelter ave

Smelter Avenue in Black Eagle (from Great Falls Tribune online), 3D Club in background behind bus.

Three you say….yes at one time, there were three in that same area.   I was really young at the time, but I can still remember the third….the Hi Hat.  It was on the same side of the street as Borries, just before it.   I remember my dad telling me it had burned down when I was little.  All I really remember of it is that it was a steak house, and that part of their flooring was colored, lighted tiles (like the Turn of the Century dance floors in the late 70’s downtown).  Fascinating to a young girl…it stuck in my mind if not much else did.  (If anyone knows anything more about the Hi Hat, please add in the comments).

Black Eagle was lucky to have three great places all there together, and still lucky the two remaining continue to thrive.  I didn’t frequent the 3D Club very much, Borries was always my favorite (which deserves it’s own post), but my first roommate out of high school was a waitress at the 3D Club.  I always looked forward to seeing what she brought home to eat….if it was Italian, Chinese or American.  It was all great.  I was definitely impressed she was able to work so well out of several kitchens the club had.   It would seem a little more empty or lonely back home without that big red 3D glowing at night in Black Eagle.

UPDATE (February 23, 2013):  More information on the HI HAT, from my Great Falls group…”The Hi Hat was a joint venture between Ernie and Tommy. It then became Ho Tai for a short few yrs which Tommy ran. Then back to Hi Hat. Then Tad and Dora bought it, had it for a couple years and arson burned it to ground and killed a transient who had snuck in the back door before closing the night before. Sadly, it was a Black Eagle boy who started the fire.”  Another group member shared this…”My grandparents Rudy and Bessie Carney started the Hi Hat from a grocery store somewhere around 1945-46. They sold it about 1959 to Mortons and Piprudes then they sold it to Tommy Grassechi and he started the Ho Tai. My grandmother was Borrie’s wife sister.”  So there we have it, some great history about the Hi Hat.



  1. Yum! 3D is one of our favorite places to eat! And Borrie’s ain’t bad, either – especially if you’ve got a hankering for crab legs!

  2. Anyone know if the Sip & Dip is still opened?

  3. You mention the Top Hat restaurant in Black Eagle. It actually was called the Hi-Hat. My best friend’s family owned it and I spent a lot of time there as a kid.

  4. A little more about the Hi-Hat:

    It was located just down from Borrie’s, and It did indeed have a dance floor of big squares of Lucite, lit from underneath with different colored lights. The result was a very “nightclub” feel with the lights glowing. The big sign in front was a top hat with a pair of white gloves and a dancing cane. The food was a mix of American and Italian, and the bar was always hopping. The restaurant was owned by Tom and Dora Morton of Great Falls, and run by them until they sold it in 1968. After it was sold, it became a Chinese restaurant for a few years before it burned down. It then became a parking lot for both the 3D and Borrie’s.
    Also, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy your blog. I graduated from C.M. Russell High in 1967, and moved out of Montana to Seattle. I am currently writing a book about my escapades while I grew up in Great Falls. I was doing some research on Wong’s restaurant – where I used to be the delivery boy for a while – when I stumbled on your blog. Keep it up, as it brings back great memories.

  5. Thank you so much for your comments! Yes, I had just recently found out that the name of the third restaurant was the Hi Hat, so need to update.

    • Tom (some called him Tad) is still alive and lives in WA. Dora died quite a while ago. Their youngest son, Anthony (Tony) lives in Portland, OR and keeps tabs on his dad. Tony was my best friend growing up in Great Falls, and we remain close friends today. We have been buds for 63 years.

    • there was a fourth……….The Miami Club. It was right next to the Hi Hat and had great Italian and American food!!

  6. Ah, yes. Many birthdays and graduations were spent at either the 3D or Borries. I used to love the “family style” Chinese food at the 3D, with the little metal serving dishes. Good stuff. My favorite place in the GF area though was The Black Angus! My older sister was a waitress there in the late 70s.

  7. How about the Miami Club? That makes four!!

  8. their was a band at the miami club cecle and wife last name boykin i thank what ever happened to them he wrote a song i’m going get on the river boat

  9. I grew up in Black Eagle and lived a block away from the 3D Club. Went to the elementary school, Collins. It was a great place to grow up. My two best friends were Cindy Grassechi and Vickie Clawson. We were always at Borrie’s and the Top Hat as Vickie’s mother worked when the fire happened. It was a terrible thing that happened. Brings back all the memories of the cars and dressed to kill men and women going into the 3D Club.

  10. I also went to Collins, but only for kindergarten. The restaurant was called the Hi Hat, not the Top Hat.

    • Every one says three. Not. The fourth was The Miami Club and had just as great of food as the others and would rival Borries for the very best.

      • Absolutely there were four. But the one I miss the most isn’t in that group — I will forever miss the Burger Master.

  11. We would often eat at the HiHat, Borries, the 3D Club, the J Bar T or the Village Inn in Ulm to celebrate after harvest. On rare occasions, while shopping downtown, we would eat at a cafeteria–I don’t know the name and there was another nice restaurant on Central Avenue that was rather dark and had kind of a red decor on the inside. Do you remember the name of it? It isn’t there now and has been gone for a long time.

  12. Probably the infamous Club Cafeteria. Perhaps the red décor at Shell’s Townhouse?

  13. we recently went back home to GF last month. We ate at some of our favorite restaurants including Borries. The Hi Hat was my favorite for half and half. My wifes’ is Borries. Does anyone have the receipe for the Hi Hat spagetti sauce? I would love to taste it again.

    • Glen, I may have the recipe you are looking for. I was told it was from the Miami Club, but it may be the Hi Hat, but I am not sure. Like the Borries recipe, it was passed down through my family, who are from Black Eagle. It’s worth giving it a try and you won’t be disappointed with this recipe either way! Here it is:

      1 pkg Lawry’s spaghetti sauce mix
      2 small cans tomato paste
      1 qt pure tomato juice
      Salt and pepper to taste
      1 toe garlic
      1 onion, chopped fine
      2 lb ground meat (half pork, half hamburger)
      1/2 c celery, chopped fine
      1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped fine
      1 carrot, chopped fine
      1 tsp poultry seasoning
      1/2 tsp allspice
      1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

      Fry meat golden. Add celery, carrot, parsley, onion, garlic, poultry seasoning, allspice, and cinnamon and cook until vegetables are tender. Add paste, juice, Lawry’s, & salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 45 minutes.

      Serve over spaghetti and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if you wish.

  14. Hello everyone in GF and Black Eagle. It was the 60’s that we The Caballeos (cowboys) played at the 3D club for Tommy Grasechi. I play drums and sang. We were 4 band members and played alot of different style songs. The club had two stage floors. On slow nights during the week we played on the first floor that pulled out and on the weekends we played on the main stage. The club was beautifully decorated with alot of red velvet and gold dinner tables. I am still alive and remember it well. Tommy was a great italian owner and we loved that man. We would visit The Sip and Dip..The Carosual Bar also. We kept warm drinking booze alot. We’ll never forget going to Glascow and seeing the Huderite russian village. Wow! they dress in black like the mini-night people. I could gho on and on here.The 3D club had the best steaks in town. If anyone would like to write here, please do. I am Christopher. Keep warm.

    • I recently found a 45 record recorded at the 3D Club in Great Falls. Band was Johnny Dio and the Astranotes. Record was produced by Johnny Dio on the DIO label, probably in the early 60s. Music is a cool, smooth jazz/rock sound.
      Titles are Back Crack Twist Part 1 & 2.. Can anyone furnish information about this record or Johnny ?

  15. I grew up in black Eagle from the Middle 60s to 87 & remember all the restaurants & hookey bobbin the cars leaving the restaurants durning the winters as kids, use to use the entery way in to Borries restaurant to keep warm because it had a heater. There use to be 2 bars & a grocery store farther up 7th going to Collins Town pump use to be an automated gas station that operated on dollar slot, gas was only .35 cents a gallon back then.

  16. This is very good.

  17. I take a chance and post to see if anyone has the minestrone soup recipe from Borries in Black Eagle?
    Thanks so much!

    • Don’t forget the Miami Club!! That makes four!!!!!

  18. Hello. My grandmother, Ruth Bridges, grew up in Black Eagle, Montana, and she tells me many wonderful stories of the place. In fact, she is never happier than when she talks about home. I am trying to learn more of her history and where I come from. She has told me her brother used to work at the Hi Hat, and I was searching that place when I came across this blog. If anyone can tell me more, that would be wonderful.

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